Monday, May 10, 2010

Glenn Greenwald hits it right about Progressives, vai the Kagan nomination

Or at least the progressive media. Basically he's let it fly that progressives would support a dead dog who Obama nominates to the Supreme Court, righteously arguing back and forth with Republicans who would surely say that the dog is a secret Communist. Here are the relevant paragraphs of Greenwald's article, which, looking at it, includes a long paragraph from someone who isn't Greenwald himself.

"
It's anything but surprising that President Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.  Nothing is a better fit for this White House than a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration's lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority.  The Obama administration is filled to the brim with exactly such individuals -- as is reflected by its actions and policies -- and this is just one more to add to the pile.  The fact that she'll be replacing someone like John Paul Stevens and likely sitting on the Supreme Court for the next three decades or so makes it much more consequential than most, but it is not a departure from the standard Obama approach.


The New York Times this morning reports that "Mr. Obama effectively framed the choice so that he could seemingly take the middle road by picking Ms. Kagan, who correctly or not was viewed as ideologically between Judge Wood on the left and Judge Garland in the center."  That's consummate Barack Obama.  The Right appoints people like John Roberts and Sam Alito, with long and clear records of what they believe because they're eager to publicly defend their judicial philosophy and have the Court reflect their values.  Beltway Democrats do the opposite:  the last thing they want is to defend what progressives have always claimed is their worldview, either because they fear the debate or because they don't really believe those things, so the path that enables them to avoid confrontation of ideas is always the most attractive, even if it risks moving the Court to the Right.


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One final thought about Kagan for now.  As I said from the beginning, the real opportunity to derail her nomination was before it was made, because the vast majority of progressives and Democrats will get behind anyone, no matter who it is, chosen by Obama.  That's just how things work.  They'll ignore most of the substantive concerns that have been raised about her, cling to appeals to authority, seize on personal testimonials from her Good Progressive friends, and try to cobble together blurry little snippets to assure themselves that she's a fine pick.  In reality, no matter what they know about her (and, more to the point, don't know), they'll support her because she's now Obama's choice, which means, by definition, that she's a good addition to the Supreme Court.  Our politics is nothing if not tribal, and the duty of Every Good Democrat is now to favor Kagan's confirmation.  Conservatives refused to succumb to those rules and ended up with Sam Alito instead of Harriet Miers, but they had a much different relationship to George Bush than progressives have to Obama (i.e., conservatives -- as they proved several times late in Bush's second term [Miers, immigration, Dubai Ports] -- were willing to oppose their leader whey they disagreed).  The White House knows that progressives will never try to oppose any important Obama initiative, and even if they were inclined, they lack the power to do so (largely because unconditional support guarantees impotence)."

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